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Literature Review: Q&A

This guide intends to provide students with information and advice about the literature review process

Found a citation in FindIT, but there's no full-text link?

FindIT citations often contain a DOI number

  • It will look something like this: 10.1386/rjao.10.1.7_1
  • Copy the number
  • Paste the number into the search box at
  • If the article is full-text and free, it will be available to you

Other options

Found a citation in a reference list, but can't find the publication?

  • Search for the publication in FindIT
  • If it's available in the library (in print, or online) the details will appear on screen
  • If it's a journal article you require - also try Google Scholar
  • Note: Not all articles in Google Scholar are available in full-text

Commonly asked questions

What is the difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography is a list of citations, with each one described and evaluated separately.
  • A literature review analyses themes within a subject.  It uses the references to support, describe and discuss the various themes.    


How many texts should a literature review include?

  • This can vary.  Seek advice from your lecturer.
  • Consult the assessment criteria for your subject.


How do I find better search terms?

  • Use FindIT to locate subject dictionaries (eg Dictionary of Biology; Dictionary of Science Fiction).
  • Textbooks often contain glossaries: use them to define terms, and to locate new and alternative terms.
  • Use a publication that you've already found - check the vocabulary the author has used.

Too many references?


Revise your search strategy


  • Ask yourself if there are dimensions of the subject that you've not included in the search - add them
  • Can you narrow your search to a specific location (eg Australia)?
  • Can you narrow to a particular date range (eg last five years)?
  • Can you narrow to a specific segment of the population (eg adults, women, youths)?
  • Can you narrow to a particular publication type?

Too few references?

Solution 1

One good article is the perfect starting point.  Use it to track down other similar articles.


  • Check the article's bibliography (reference list):  this may lead you to other relevant resources
  • In Google Scholar use the "cited by" link to follow up on related articles



Solution 2

Revise your search


  • Check your original search for spelling errors
  • Rethink the search terms you've used
  • Consult dictionaries, glossaries and a thesaurus to find related and alternative terms, then add them to your search
  • Separate like-terms in the search box with "or" (eg teenagers or adolescents or youths)
  • For more ideas on how to improve your search, watch the Search Strategy videos